Is There Such A Thing As Forgive And Forget?
“Okay, back up a second, I can do forgiveness but you see forgetting? Uh uh I can’t. You see I come from a long line of historians, we keep track of people who have done us wrong, so I am definitely not going to do that. People do not actually change, they say they do but they don’t, you have to shine your eyes, watch out for the next time they are going to do the same thing, so you toss them off and move on”.
Wait- that’s a whole lot of work, to watch out for someone’s mistakes. Well let’s move on.
Now, What Does It Actually Mean To Forgive?
Well, from the English Dictionary It means;
a) To absolve somebody completely for a past or wrong doing;
b) to pardon with neither resentment nor a view to retribution.
Now To Forget means to overlook, pass over, disremember.
Look at the second definition of Forgive carefully, it says to pardon “without resentment”. How would you forgive someone and then still have that chip on your shoulder. Wait, What? What kind of chip? Well it’s the one you have as a constant reminder that somehow, somewhere that person you just forgave will repeat the same thing or even worse do something more terrible to you. So you tell the person you have forgiven him/her and you convince yourself that you have, but deep within, you sure know you’re holding back.
Robert Brault said- “If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one”. I would beg to disagree because you see,
If you pick forgiving and decide not to forget, often times you may find yourself stuck. How so? When you forgive an individual for wronging you, you give yourself the opportunity to move on,to grow. If the person is your friend, you know he/she won’t deliberately hurt you and even if they do, it would be a mistake, and they would immediately apologise.
Now, the growth process will make this person (friend or not) to be a better individual if he chooses to. But most importantly you will be a better person and you will feel good, better you would feel great.
Look at it this way? How would you feel if you lashed out on your friend in anger. She is hurt and you apologise quickly, you didn’t mean to hurt her, but for your “quick tongue”. She says she has forgiven you and now you have the past behind you and both move on. Seems the friendship is progressing until six months later, you lashed out on her again, this time not deliberately.
The therapist you’ve been visiting for the past months said you breathe in and breathe out for at least five seconds before saying anything when angry. It has been working but today you slipped, this one time, so you apologise. She is enraged, she looks you in the face and says you’ll never change, that you’d keep doing the same thing over and over again, to make matters worse, she goes down memory lane to recount each of your past misdoings. Yes I know how you would feel. Your shoulders are slumped, you’re sorry and hurt.
You realize now, she didn’t actually forgive you, she just told you she did but she didn’t in the real sense of the word. The progress you were trying to make to be a better person now looks like a mirage. You feel terrible. Then you may decide to break off the relationship to stay true to yourself and be with someone who would help your growth process. Or worse, you may decide to believe that you aren’t going to be a better individual, that you will never change and pretty soon it will take a toll on you.
On the other hand, to truly forget a wrong, you have to go through a process of healing, which will make it easy for you to move on.
After all, Confucius said-” To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it”. This can’t really happen without you forgiving the person who hurt you and forgiving yourself. You forgive yourself for letting this person into your life, and letting him/her hurt you that way.
Now don’t take this the wrong way, forgiving and forgetting a person’s wrong shouldn’t make you to constantly allow toxicity in your life or allow people who constantly bring you down to remain. Sometimes if it’s a friendship, forgetting may mean to shut the door completely and never look back, never allow such a fellow into your life again. It helps your sanity.
In forgiving and forgetting, you get to be wiser, stronger and very powerful- you are in control of your emotions. You know the people to avoid in the future and you know the people to let in, you know the steps to take when wrong and you know how to let go and move on. I’ll conclude with this quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”